Straight Outta Lockdown Vol 2: The Gym
This blog series 'Straight Outta Lockdown' is not only a nod to my fondness of 80s & 90s hip-hop, but hopefully a way for us to scope out the lay of the land looking forward.
Reflection has a role to play in our lives, yeah, reflection is cool. There is a time for reflection, but reflection can easily become negative; time spent too long in reflection can lead us to dwell in the past.
Vol 1 was all about 'Self'. Vol 2 looks to discuss going back to the gym and our relationship with fitness. I did touch on this in Vol 1, so let's expand a bit more.
Shut it down
In the UK, gyms closed during March as part of the Coronavirus lockdown. In Scotland, we received the announcement 24-hours ago that gyms & pools could re-open on 31 August (10 days' time)
Closing the gyms was devastating, for me, but clearly the right thing to do. In another blog post, I asked people in my local area via online survey how this made them feel. The majority (64%) said they felt it had impacted them either slightly, or greatly.
I don't need to preach the physical and mental health benefits of exercise - and many people adapted in the face of adversity in order to keep up the habit.
Hopefully, in 10 days' time, gyms in Scotland will be open once more. As part of the phased easing of restrictions, we are able to exercise in some capacity outside of our home though, or example in small groups (socially distanced) or with a Personal Trainer. This in itself is great as it offers an aid to those who struggle with fitness at home, or exercising independently, the most. Are you an instructor who offered your own solutions to lockdown fitness? How was that for you? Fitness, like many other sectors, evolves. Could there be a new normal emerging that instructors will evolve to? I prophesised about the future of fitness way back in June too..
For gyms in other areas of the UK, or indeed the world, depending on where you are - how have things changed in the gym environment (aside the obvious 2m distancing and distinct smell of anti-bac)? Michael and I chatted about what the gym experience might look like after lockdown. I feel like that whilst most people will be really excited to get back to the studio or the gym floor, there will be an underlying sense of unease. Distrust almost..? Can you depend on your fellow gym-goers not to f*ck this up for you?
In the abovementioned survey, again 64% of those surveyed indicated they were either likely or very likely to return to the gyms once they open.
From the instructor perspective I am still wondering how my experience will differ from before in delivering classes. I want people to enjoy themselves, but I want them to feel safe without everything feeling too clinical.
I want to start this section by saying this comes from a position of zero prejudice. I just wanna talk about it. Most days I will see posts on social media about people who feel guilty or concerned about gaining a little weight over the last few months, or even just falling out of good habits as a result of the disruption. Again - zero judgement - this is a conversational piece.
For me, yeah, my body's changed over the last few months. I have less definition and muscle tone.. how does that make me feel? Like anyone, I have good and bad days. I see those changes and the initial stress starts to unfold. BUT I take some time to focus on what's real. I'm here, I'm healthy, I can still exercise if and when I choose to.
Do you take time to reinforce positivity or gratitude? Maybe it's worth a try. Really. For every negative thought you tell yourself .. tell yourself two more positives.
You are better than what you tell yourself.
Fast forward - woah not too much now - only 10 days. Or whenever you decide to take your first step back to the gym/ class.
(PS - If you decide the gym is not for you right now, that's fine. It's a tall ask to go to public places while there's still an element of risk - I get it. I'm gonna write a bit more on than in Vol.3 too.)
What's the game plan?
Just loving life back at BODYCOMBAT? Cool.
Wanting to regain some upper body posture through months of slumping at your new desk - which is also conveniently the couch - hitting the bench press and deadlifts? Cool.
I'll be happy to start lifting weights again - I really want to keep on top of grip strength again too, I know my pull-ups will have taken a hard hit.
It's good to have a game plan, a goal if you will. If you need help with that pop me a message on Instagram, let's talk about it!
Your gym will (should) have safety measures in place when they re-open which may mean limited equipment or pre-booking procedures so I think that heading in with a clear plan (and a back up plan) for what you want to achieve for your 30-60 minutes' activity will help with any anxiety about showing up.
If you're thinking about joining a gym for the first time, or found a new love for fitness during lockdown, I highly recommend Group Exercise.
My personal favourites are of course Les Mills, but I recently started CrossFit myself. I wrote about that here.
I'm reverting back to weight (fat) loss again, purely because this is likely to be the challenge that most of us have faced over lockdown. If you don't think this applies to you, that's grand feel free to skip on, but I feel like I want to throw in my two cents. For some reason people want to read about fat loss, so in case it's what you came here for, I'll briefly touch on it..
Among everything that will bombard you with 'health', 'fitness', 'fitspiration' remember you need to do one key thing for fat loss:
Maintain a calorie deficit.
The answer does not lie with a supplement, a shake, a pill, a tea.
The answer does not lie with a crash diet; by this I mean cutting food groups or entire macros from your diet (keto), or a slimming club.
Yes. These things will make you lose weight.
They may even make you lose weight fast.
What happens when you reach your goal weight and you go back to normal?
Yeah - it comes back.
The problem with those 'hacks' are that you weren't doing them before. This makes them unsustainable.
Sustainable changes mean still eating the kinds of foods you like to eat, but making small compromises along the way.
Say you consume 2,700 calories a day and you're gaining weight, if you change this to 2,200 calories a day - through monitoring portion sizes, increasing protein intake* and being realistic about what you can cut out from your diet - then you'll lose weight, gradually. If you supplement this with exercise then this will help too.
*protein has a comparable calorie-per-gram ratio to carbs (e.g. 4 calories per gram), but protein tends to have a higher satiety than carbs. I'd like to point out though that veggies are often filling and low calorie value - micronutrients and all.
If you were to start something like keto (cutting out carbs) you might find that your diet actually relied a lot on carbs in the first place (cereals, fruits, bread, potatoes, biscuits) so yeah, sure, when you cut all of those out you're maybe on 1,500 calories a day and the weight will fly off..... But you will limit yourself from all the things you love in life (carbs are life) in the process. I'd also like to take this point to highlight that if you find yourself believing that carbs are bad for you, please stop. Too much of anything, yes, can be bad. Most foods will have carbs of some form in them though - it is a form of energy - it is a macronutrient. Emphasis on nurtrient. I'm not slamming keto.. Keto can be appropriate in managing severe cases of obesity and managing Type 2 Diabetes, but will be recommended by doctor or dietician. Not instagram.
Ngl, I was enjoying take-outs on Saturdays through the most part of lockdown. I wasn't doing that before lockdown (#YOLO and all that) so when I change that weekly take-out back to something more realistic like a monthly take-out then this will impact my overall calorie consumption. I can live without that weekly take-out. Small compromises.
If you really cannot review what you eat then 'calories out' is also something to think about. Once the gyms open and we begin commuting to work again your daily activity will be sure to increase. James Smith often says 'you can't out-train a bad diet' but - everything in moderation and you shouldn't need to.
I also like Diren Kartal's NEAT UP 24/7 concept. NEAT is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis - so incorporating more activity in your day (almost subliminally) like taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to the shops, parking closer from the door. I also like it because it makes activity more accessible and gets people moving. When people move, they are happier :)
Instructors, how are we feeling about that #FirstClassBack?
I am SO NERVOUS and EXCITED. I am that horrid NERVOUS EXCITED!!
Like, you're about to go to bed and it's the night before your last ever exam - which also happens to be on Christmas!!!
Which is your first class? What are you going to mix?
Has your gym decided to not open - can you participate at classes elsewhere until it does?
Like the first day of school, check you got all you need.. these are my must-haves.
At the time of writing it is to be confirmed, but I think my first class back is due to be BODYPUMP.. For the first class back I am going to put together a mix of tracks I feel comfortable teaching and that I know I can execute (physically) well. I'm not going to go too far back with releases because the direction of BP, which most members will have missed through lockdown, has changed a bit and I don't want my mixes to feel too 'abstract' from the new stuff - I eventually want to teach 114 if I have time before the next round..
Are you different? What's your thoughts?
'Rap' it up
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the pre-Gym hype here in Scotland and I also hope you agree with some of the points I've talked about.
As I mention this isn't a place of judgement, simply a discussion piece. If you'd like to chat more about getting back to the gym, or if you need direction with diet, weight loss or other advice, drop me a message on Instagram and I will lend an ear!
Stay safe everyone
Vol 3: Socialising, coming soon.